Live - from the Austin TX Airport

I know that I may have let many of your down by not posting to this blog. I have a few excuses, some of them are good, some are not. Primarily, I have heard that the internet speeds are incredibly slow in Afghanistan and knowing this leads me to the temptation to quit blogging. (I know - many of you think I already have:) Haha!!

I have been extremely busy for the last few months. I participated in an Annual Training in Tucson for 1 week, the down to Ft. Huachuca for weapons qualification, then up to Florence for two weeks of basic "soldiering" training. Then I hit Ft. Hood. Internet availability has been sparse and I'm not a big fan of fancy phones that would let me do blogging from anywhere.

It is nearly 7:00 PM and I am sitting the Austin TX airport waiting for a van to pick me up and take me over to Ft. Hood. I will be here for several hours. It is nearly a two hour drive from Austin to Ft. Hood. Ay Carumba!

Regarding Ft. Hood. It is known as "The Great Place". I don't believe there is anything great about Ft. Hood. Of course, I don't know anyone here other than the unit I am deploying with and we all want to get out of here ASAP!!! We all want to move on to doing our full-time jobs instead of all this "training". Now - I know that training is important. Very important. But I'm still showing up in Afghanistan having had very little training in the one area I really need it.....that of being the Battalion Logistics Officer. I don't even know what that means yet :)

I spent the last 4 days with Stephanie and Sydney. What a welcome break! And...too bad that it is over. Thankfully we have made some great progress as we have all tackled this deployment with a real team effort. My wife is definitely the inspiration for my perseverance. We are working on goals and trying to see the silver lining hidden in this experience.

Sydney is taking the deployment well too. Of course, I think this is largely due to the fact that she doesn't know what her dad is really doing. I was quite emotional this morning as I said goodbye to my two best friends again. Sydney looked at me and said "Dad, why are you crying?"

I told her I was crying because I love her and that I am really going to miss her.

She said, "Dad, I will be right here. I not going anywhere!"

Out of the mouth of babes!!!

Trip #2

My wife came out for a second visit. What a boost to morale! Being alone is never fun, and I know she was looking forward to a little down time as well.

While she was here we went to Colonial Williamsburg. This place was beautiful. We both felt as though we had taken a step back in time. We walked down the streets, saw the horse-drawn carriages being parked outside the taverns, and even locked ourselves into the public discipline square.

We drove out to Jamestown which is the first American settlement. That place is amazing for separate reasons and I'm hoping to go back out there before my time in Virginia is over. We'll see. Someone just told me that he took his family out there and they came back with 4 ticks and had to get checked for an infection of Lyme disease. So yeah....I'm a little hesitant to go out there.

We went to Busch Gardens and saw some roller-coasters that we didn't have the courage to ride. We saw some fun performances - Irish dancing, and an animal show - that we enjoyed. We went on the Sky Ride. We didn't know that we were patronizing the famous beer company. I felt a little bad about that when we first entered the park. My guilt quickly subsided because I'm really good at pushing feelings of guilt aside. Feeling guilty takes too much time and energy. Plus, we got a sweet deal - $50 for the both of us for the entire day.

We also spent July 4th together. We stayed for the fireworks finale, but didn't wait until the finale was over before leaving. The show was held at the football field on Ft. Lee and there were Soldier's everywhere. This was the time when we both wished Sydney could have been with us. We sure missed our little bug!

The day before she flew back to Utah, we walked along one of the Petersburg Battlefield trails right on Ft. Lee. I enjoyed going there with Stephanie because we both got to see some living history. There was a re-creation of trenches used during the Civil War. For any history experts out there, you know that there is a specific reason we don't use trench warfare anymore - trenches are effective at stopping the enemy and killing lots of people!

She stood by a small hut that was typically used by Soldier's during this era. There was also a piece of the railroad left that was used to transport goods and Soldier's during the Civil War. General Robert E. Lee had a headquarters here in Petersburg. I need to get out there and see the headquarters.

I remember reading about General Ulysses Grant (Union) meeting General Robert Lee (Confederacy) when General Lee finally conceded defeat. They talked as old friends from the West Point Military Academy finishing up the business of war. Did you know that General Grant was ranked at the bottom of his West Point class? Yeah - apparently most of the other cadets didn't think he would ever succeed.

Anywho's..... Here are some pictures. Enjoy!

Situation Report

The last several weeks have been busy! My problem is that I do not know how to describe what I have done, or what I have learned. I hope I learned something, but I may not know for quite a while.

There are 4 phases to this Combined Logistics Captains Career Course. There used to be 5 phases, but the first phase of training was determined to be unnecessary.

Phase 2A was a "pre-command" training session. Since I have already been a commander, I did not learn a lot from this phase. I did learn a few tips that would have been useful to know while I was a commander. However, I may not be in the military long enough for these tips to come in useful in the future.

Phase 2B was...busy. We did practical exercises every week. At the end of each week we were required to brief our instructor about our plans for providing logistical services which include food, water, clothing, gas for vehicles, construction material, ammunition, medical items, and a few other items.

Phase 2B proved a true trial on my patience. Instruction was comprised of sitting in a 3-4 hour slide show (powerpoint) regarding each type of logistical product. We were then supposed to be able to implement our "instruction" into a practical exercise. Of course I have an opinion about this instruction by powerpoint methodology -

Powerpoint slides are not effective for teaching!

Powerpoint slides are great for informing!

So I spent several weeks memorizing anywhere from 50 to 100 slides so that I could pass a weekly test on material that had been taught. Whatever!

I am currently in Phase 3. So far this phase has been much more relaxed, and I am grateful for the break! I am almost finished with week 1 of this phase, so it is too early to make an assessment of this phase.

I have learned the most from my active duty counterparts. I ran into an old friend from college who has deployed twice to Iraq. This guy is my current hero!!!! Out of respect for him and the experiences he and his family endured during his deployments, I will not share anything other than this -

Thank goodness our nation is full of heroes!!!